August 18, 2012 10:54:10 PM
STARKVILLE - It was just time for Jake Thomas to end all the unnecessary drama.
The four-star offensive tackle from Columbus High School called the Mississippi State University coaching staff Wednesday to confirm his commitment to the Bulldogs program.
"After talking with his mother today, he was just trying to concentrate on enjoying his senior year here," Columbus High coach Tony Stanford said. "It sort of went like this for Jake - I've always been a Mississippi State fan, it's close to home and let's just get it over with and done right now."
Thomas, who was rated one of the best offensive lineman prospects in the state of Mississippi, has already been on the MSU campus repeatedly after taking an unofficial visit in March and attending the MSU Big Dawg camp each of the last two seasons.
"It's a big stadium here and I can sure see myself playing in an atmosphere like this when it's full on a Saturday," Thomas said in 2011 when participating at the New Hope High School jamboree at Davis Wade Stadium.
Thomas is the 17th verbal commitment for MSU's 2013 recruiting class that is currently ranked 22nd in the nation according to 247Sports.com. The Bulldogs have gotten vebal pledges from five of the top 10 prospects in the Magnolia state with two players (South Panola's athlete Antonio Connor and Itawamba Agricultural High School tailback Ashton Shumpert) still undecided.
Thomas chose MSU over a competing offer from the University of Southern Mississippi but the offensive tackle had also received interest from the University of Alabama and Stanford University as well.
"I think he was intrigued about the possibility of leaving home and going to a school far away but at the end of it all, Mississippi State was always there for him throughout the whole process," Stanford said. "I feel like he's happy with the decision he made today and that's the most important thing."
This past May Thomas was one of nine Mississippians nominated for this season's U.S. Army All-American Bowl game at noon, Jan. 5, 2013, at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Thomas, who stands 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds already, is expected to join a large overhaul of the offensive line in the 2013 recruiting class as he joins Jackson Academy's Jamaal Clayborn, South Panola four-star prospect Deon Mix and Hollandale Simmons High School lineman Kent Flowers as verbal commitments.
Stanford says Thomas is fully recovered from a foot injury suffered during the first day of the Falcons' spring drills and will be 100 percent for CHS' season opener tomorrow night.
Stanford said what Thomas can bring to the MSU program is a return to its old-school roots in the running game as a special physical force on off-tackle run plays that MSU has been known for with tailbacks such as Jerious Norwood, Anthony Dixon and Vick Ballard.
"When I see Jake put on those knee braces and go out there to play, I see a lineman that looks like one of those Nebraska lineman from back in the 1980s," Stanford said. "He looks like somebody the University of Wisconsin would put on the field right now and just plow the road."
Thomas will be a senior leader on a youthfully rebuilding offensive line at Columbus High School team this season that will be led by Trace Lee, the younger brother of former MSU quarterback Tyson Lee.
"He's really trying to be a leader on our offensive line this season and because of that, we think we can be a lot better up front by the end of the season," Stanford said. "What we've been really surprised about with Jake's progress is his ability to run like a stallion and mix that with a great understanding of how to use his hands and feet."